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2012/2013 Studentship Recipients

Ashley Yip, University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus, Kelowna

4th year undergraduate
Supervisor: Dr. Rasika Rajapakshe, Medical Physics/Screening Mammography Program, BC Cancer Agency – Southern Interior

Project Title

Validation of automated volumetric measures of breast density

Project Overview

High breast density has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Breast density is commonly measured through visual assessment by a radiologist, but with the advent of digital mammography, automated software for measuring breast density is now available. Ashley is working to quantify the amount of breast cancer risk associated with an automated measure of dense breast tissue volume. This factor will be incorporated into a risk prediction model that would allow the research team to develop an effective strategy to identify and manage women at high risk of breast cancer.

Rebecca Mlikotic, University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus, Kelownastudent_rebecca.jpg

3rd year undergraduate
Supervisor: Dr. Cythia Araujo, Medical Physics, BC Cancer Agency – Southern Interior

Project Title

Populating an epidemiological model for breast cancer using data from British Columbia 

Project Overview

A breast cancer care path model, much like a flow chart, was developed based on standard treatments used in British Columbia. The pathway begins with women attending screening and then traces cancer patients through diagnosis and treatment to survival outcomes. Data was collected from within British Columbia and was used to calculate probabilities of certain outcomes for individual patients. As a final product, the model will evaluate how screening and other treatment interventions impact multiple outcomes such as population health and costs to the healthcare system. This will enable researchers and policy makers to assess the outcomes and effectiveness of different interventions before they are implemented.

Stephen Smithbower, University of British Columbia - Okanagan Campus, Kelownastudentshiprecipient_stephen.jpg

4th year undergraduate
Supervisor: Dr. Rasika Rajapakshe, Medical Physics/Screening Mammography Program, BC Cancer Agency – Southern Interior

Project Title

Utilizing Consumer Graphics Hardware to Improve the Performance of Breast Cancer Microsimulations

Project Overview

Modeling and simulation of cancer care paths provides for powerful tools that allow policy makers to investigate and forecast the impact of future polices. Such tools have already demonstrated their usefulness with implementations for lung cancer (the CPAC Lung Model), and planned implementations (CPAC Colorectal Model). The BC Cancer Center for the Southern Interior is currently involved in initial research for the development of a Breast Cancer Model, similar to the CPAC Lung Model. Unfortunately simulations of this nature tend to be very computationally complex, taking hours or even days before being able to provide results for a given scenario. Simulation accuracy often must be compromised in order to provide results within a reasonable timeframe.

The project aims to alleviate the performance issues of the Breast Cancer Model by investigating the use of consumer graphics cards for accelerating the computations performed in microsimulations. Applications of consumer graphics hardware to other areas of scientific computing, such as protein folding, cone beam CT reconstruction, and radiation monte carlo, have already shown success. We believe that it will be possible to improve the performance of microsimulations such as the Breast Cancer Model by an order of magnitude or more while requiring only a minimal investment in computing hardware.​


Ovarian Cancer Studentship:

CBCF has the capacity to fund one additional student. CBCF will grant the funds to Ovarian Cancer Canada and they in turn will grant the funds directly to the BC Cancer Agency.

Mary Elrick, University of Victoria, Victoria

student_mary.jpg3rd year undergraduate
Supervisor: Dr. Julian Lum, Immunology, BCCA – Vancouver Island Centre

Project Title

Investigating the relationship between autophagy and T cells in ovarian cancer.

Project Overview

When solid tumors, such as ovarian or breast, grow to a point where the blood supply cannot provide them with sufficient oxygen and nutrients, a state of stress is reached. Cancer cells may activate a survival mechanism called autophagy to overcome this stressed state, which is often associated with poor patient prognosis. Mary's project uses a technique called immunohistochemistry on ovarian cancer patient samples to determine whether T cells, important white blood cells that can attack and kill tumors, are able to reach stressed regions of the tumor. Conclusions drawn from this project will aid in improving the efficacy of cancer therapies that work to boost immune attack on tumors.